This Week in Toronto: Bloor-Yorkville IceFest, Hershey Kisses' Valentine’s Pop-Up, the Black History Month Film Festival

BizBash's new Toronto column from Calvin Barr covers the week's biggest event news.

The 15th annual Bloor-Yorkville IceFest displayed more than 70,000 pounds of ice sculptures, with the support of Holt Renfrew Centre, Hudson’s Bay Centre, Manulife Centre, TD Bank Group, Sassafraz, and the Colonnade.
The 15th annual Bloor-Yorkville IceFest displayed more than 70,000 pounds of ice sculptures, with the support of Holt Renfrew Centre, Hudson’s Bay Centre, Manulife Centre, TD Bank Group, Sassafraz, and the Colonnade.
Photo: Courtesy of Bloor-Yorkville IceFest

TORONTO—Welcome to BizBash’s Toronto-based column, where Calvin Barr covers the week’s biggest local news. Got a tip? Get in touch!

Moves and Milestones
SkipTheDishes Canada appointed Cheryl Radisa as vice president of marketing. Radisa, who will report to managing director Howard Migdal in the Toronto office, previously oversaw marketing operations for McCormick, Pepsi, Loblaws, and TD Canada.

In Case You Missed It
Ontario Place’s “Winter Lights Exhibition” opened over the weekend on West Island. Twenty-one displays encompassing this year’s “cocoons” theme use a variety of sculpture, light, paint, and digital techniques to explore ideas of nature, community, perception, and birth. The event is also featuring free indoor paint classes and bonfires from Fridays to Sundays until the exhibition closes at the end of March.

The Bloor-Yorkville Icefest returned on February 8 and 9. This year’s “Awesome ’80s”-theme exhibition featured sculptures inspired by Elton John, boomboxes, Converse sneakers, Madonna, Andy Warhol, Eddie Van Halen, and Back to the Future. Participants were invited to an ice lounge with live DJs from Bellosound, a weekend-long scavenger hunt, and the festival’s annual ice-carving competition at Sassafraz. The event raised funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, inviting guests to donate in exchange for maple syrup taffy treats and access to a pop-up arcade with 60 classic video games. 

Union Station hosted the first-ever free “Hershey Kisses Sweet Reunions Post Office” from February 10 to 11. It invited participants to send a heart-shape box with 165 grams of milk chocolate Hershey Kisses, as well as a card with a personalized message, to a loved one of their choosing across Canada in time for Valentine’s Day. "We built the campaign on the insight that while Valentine's Day can be happy for a lot of people, it can be difficult for those separated by distance,” said Samantha Fitchner, senior account manager at the Mint Agency. “We created this activation to bring more Canadians together.” 

Toronto viewing parties for the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday night included a members-only screening at the TIFF Lightbox with speciality cocktails; Club 120’s red carpet commentary with “best dressed” and “best social media post” prizes for attendees; and a satirical “A Roast From Red Carpet to Final Envelope” at the Royal Cinema. 

Venue Buzz
On Valentine’s Day, the Globe and Mail Centre will be hosting the weddings of 10 couples participating in Pop-Up Chapel Co. ceremonies. The portable wedding event company—which enables couples to get married for a $2,499 flat rate while sharing decor, photographers, flowers, music, and refreshments—was created in response to demands for eco-conscious and cost-effective alternatives to lavish wedding packages. 

Turn of Events
On February 14, the Asialicious food festival is launching in Markham in response to declines in sales for local Asian restaurants attributed to coronavirus fears, according to Global News Toronto. Despite low risks to the Canadian consumers, some restaurants have reported losses from 20 to 90 percent, according to the Federation of Chinese Canadians in Markham.

“We don’t really treat each other like humans. I feel like it’d be harder to do these things to a person you met at a party or through a friend—canceling last minute, or never progressing to the point of meeting up. There’s part of our brain that doesn’t fully understand that this is a social interaction, because we’re interacting with an interface designed to feel fun, designed to feel like a game. If you get a match, you score a point. And then when they message you, you’re confronted with, ‘Oh, that’s actually a human—I have to do stuff now.’”

—John Chidley-Hill speaking to Now Toronto about the struggles Torontonian singles face trying to meet someone special online versus in-person.

On the Scene
The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies held its six-year anniversary celebration at the Junction Craft Brewery; the event featured a Vango photobooth. 

What’s Next?
Today, the Toronto Black Film Festival returns for its eighth year, with entries starring Danny Glover, Loretta Devine, Jada Pinkett Smith, Damon Wayans, Ana Ortiz, and more. With more than 75 films from 20 countries, the festival will include nine world premieres and will present filmmaker Spike Lee with a lifetime achievement award at a special ceremony that will include a screening of his 2000 film Bamboozled followed by a Q&A. Screenings events will take place from now until February 17 at Isabel Bader Theatre, Carlton Cinema, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, and Upper Deck by Fran's.

Torontonian matchmaking expert Shannon Tebb is hosting a Valentine’s Day masquerade at Bisha Hotel on February 13. The event, which requires attendees to wear a mask, promises a night of mystery and seduction, and will feature a live performance by Glitter Girls as well as a prize for the best costume. 

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